A Different F&I Culture Bumps Dealer’s Product Penetration 162%

By: Jim Leman

A buyer walks into an F&I office asking to finance 150% of book value, and after you walk him through several presentations on why GAP would be a worthwhile ancillary purchase the customer still declines to buy.

For this kind of buyer, indeed, GAP’s investment protection value far exceeds the few dollars its purchase would add to the monthly payment.

The customer does not see that here – that GAP would be a prudent risk mitigation to fill that gap, pun intended -between the note value and the vehicle’s ACV.

Why would this customer take that risk?

An increasing number of GMs are concluding the answer is that the dealership and F&I manager didn’t do the best job at building that product’s value in the customer’s mind during the presentation.

While we’re talking about GAP here, this lesson pertains to any product you sell. If you discuss your products mechanically and lacking the confidence in their value, you treat them and your customer as throw-away commodities.

That line of selling comes off as the old joke it is that runs through every newbie sales class – “You wouldn’t want to buy this, would you?”

A case in point was the product penetration gain experience by Brannon Honda when it switched up its traditional talk track to discussion designed to build product value and trust in the process and F&I manager.

Since then, Brannon Honda’s product penetration has increased by 162%, notes Ben Brannon, Dealer Manager of the Birmingham, AL dealership.

For this gain, he credits a refined presentation culture and revised pay plan that supports it.

When F&I asks the right questions, when it takes the time – and it should take some time – to explain not just what the F&I menu products are, but what they do and why they’re valuable, buyers perk up.

When consumers understand the value of goods they trust what you say and desire that value:

  • Why GAP for some customers is a major wallet protector
  • How a vehicle service contract is budget protection
  • Why a preventive maintenance plan is safety/performance/value protection

A pay plan change gives F&I new incentive to slow down and focus on value-building. “This is a lifetime customer care approach,” Brannon says “We now work from a products-sold pay plan versus a PRV plan, and that is advancing overall health of the dealership.”

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